By BRETT DAVIS
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — It’s official: Kshama Sawant has avoided being recalled – by 310 votes.
Ms. Sawant, a socialist and Seattle’s longest-tenured member of the city council, will retain her position with just over half of voters in District 3 casting their ballots to keep her in office.
Friday’s certified ballot results, streamed live on King County Elections Facebook page, showed 50.38% of voters (20,656) in opposition to the recall and 49.62% in favor (20,346).
There are 77,579 registered voters in District 3, which includes Capitol Hill, First Hill, the Central District, Madrona, Montlake, and Leschi.
The controversial Ms. Sawant, 48, a former economics professor, was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2013 and is well known for pushing measures like rent control, defunding the police, and taxing big corporations like Amazon to pay for community services.
The recall levied three specific charges against Ms. Sawant, including violating COVID-19 protocols by admitting protesters into city hall during a June 2020 demonstration, misusing council resources to promote her “Tax Amazon” initiative, and using her position on the city council to lead protesters to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home.
Ms. Sawant’s victory provides a boost to the city’s progressive movement, which experienced setbacks in last month’s general election when more pro-law-and-order candidates won the mayor’s office and the city attorney’s office, and a more business-friendly candidate won a city council seat.
Still, don’t look for Ms. Sawant’s heated rhetoric and behavior to change in light of her slim recall victory, says John Wilkerson, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington, who predicted to The Center Square that Ms. Sawant would prevail.
“From the start, Sawant has portrayed the recall as part of a class struggle,” he said in an email. “I doubt that the closeness of the outcome will have much of an impact on her agenda.”